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Star Trek XI Best Makeup Academy Award Nominee Barney Burman Interview

Star Trek XI Best Makeup Academy Award Nominee Barney Burman Interview

Star Trek XI was practically snubbed this year by Oscar and his Hollywood cronies.  One category though, proves to be a possible win for J.J. and crew, Best Makeup.  Leading the award nominated team is legendary Makeup artist Barney Burman. 

Barney comes from a long line of Hollywood makeup artists; his grandfather Ellis Burman Sr. made prosthetics and props for the original "Wolf Man" (1941) and "The Twilight Zone.  His father then worked on such films as "Planet of the Apes" (1968) and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  Barney's no slouch himself with credits such as; "Tropic Thunder" (he transformed Tom Cruise into the repulsive Les Grossman), "Valkyrie," "Blades of Glory," "Alias" and many others.

The L.A. Times sat down with Barney for a quick Q & A, here are some of the highlights.

Q: How did you come to "Star Trek?"

A: I had worked with J.J. Abrams on "Mission: Impossible 3," and when I found out that he was going to be doing "Star Trek," I put in a call to him to let him know that I would be interested...Several months later, I got a call from J.J. for an HBO project called "Anatomy of Hope," and he brought me on board for that. I inquired about "Star Trek," but certainly didn't press anything. But while I was working on it, I got a call from the producers of "Star Trek," who wanted to meet with me. It was weird, because I was working with J.J. on set and not talking about "Star Trek," but also finding time to talk to these producers about "Star Trek," and hoping it would gel, which it did.

Q: It sounds like a bit of subterfuge.

A: Yes, it was. I've often come across weird, conflicting things like this.

Q: And how do you deal with it?

A: I try to just laugh at it. There are times when I've gotten a lot of notoriety for something, but I have no work. And it's like, "Great, I'm popular, but no one's calling me!"

Q: People who work on "Star Trek" projects seem to fall into two categories - die-hard fans and those that remember the original series but don't live and die by it. Which best describes you?

A: Certainly the latter. I liked the old series as a kid, but I never got into the new series. I watched most of the films, but not all of them, because I watch a lot of movies, not because I was a follower. I never went to any conventions or donned a uniform of any kind. And that was partly what helped me get the job. I never worked on any of the series, and because I hadn't and wasn't an avid follower, that opened the door for me to take the job and view it with J.J.'s perspective, rather than trying follow the established canon or lore of "Star Trek."

Q: What were your conversations with J.J. regarding makeup?

A: He was really open, and wanted to see every idea imaginable, including old stuff that had been on the shows, and new things that no one had ever seen. What he said to me in regard to the aliens was, "I don't know what they look like - I just know that they have to be right." He acknowledged that such a thing was tantamount to finding the woman you're going to marry over and over again, but that's what we had to do. So a couple of designers and people on my crew started pumping out ideas.

Q: The most significant deviation from the "Star Trek" canon of alien design is the makeup for the Romulans. How did that come about?

A: Early on, I brought on a fantastic artist and makeup artist named Joel Harlow who ended up taking over the Romulans and doing them on set, close to where J.J. was. I was back in my shop working on the more extravagant aliens. We ended up doing about 36 different aliens, and I think you only end up seeing about six, which was a shame, but you always know that there's going to be some degree of that.  (source L.A. Times)

Read the rest of the interview here.

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